Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
John Kerr enters his sixth season as the head coach of the Duke men’s soccer team. Kerr, inducted into the Duke Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, replaced longtime coach John Rennie, who spent 29 seasons at the helm of the Blue Devil program. Under the guidance of Kerr, the Blue Devils have advanced to four NCAA Tournaments and to the round of 16 in 2009, collected seven NSCAA All-America awards, and a Hermann Trophy winner.
Duke faced its fair share of challenges in the 2012 campaign with the departure of the national player of the Year and MLS No. 1 pick Andrew Wenger and top assist man Christopher Tweed-Kent along with a variety of injuries. The Blue Devils finished the year 8-8-2 overall, just missing a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. All eight of Duke’s losses came by one goal as the Blue Devils sacrificed just 11 goals all season. Duke’s 0.70 goals against average was the lowest since the 1987 season when the Blue Devils posted a 0.63 average.
Senior goalkeeper James Belshaw highlighted the 2012 season earning NSCAA All-America third team honors, while center back Sebastien Ibeagha was selected as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year to mark the fifth straight season Duke has captured a major ACC award and the second time a Blue Devil under Kerr earned the defensive MVP honor. Both were All-ACC first team selections as well.
The 2011 season featured numerous highlights. The Blue Devils finished the year 11-8-3 overall and 4-3-1 for third place in the ACC. Duke advanced to the ACC Tournament semifinal for the first time under Kerr and to the NCAA Tournament second round for the third consecutive season.
Kerr’s fourth season was highlighted by the individual accolades of Wenger. The Lititz, Pa., native made history when he was voted as the ACC Offensive Player of the Year after collecting the ACC Defensive and ACC Rookie of the Year awards in the previous two seasons. Under Kerr’s tutelage, Wenger went on to win the MAC Hermann Award, Duke’s first national player of the year honor since 2000 and the first under Kerr. With the award, Kerr became the first Hermann Award winner to go on to coach a Hermann Award recipient.
Wenger capped off the year by being selected first in the Major League Soccer Super Draft, the first Blue Devil to be taken No. 1.
While Wenger provided many offensive highlights, the play of Belshaw and Ibeagha also garnered notice. Belshaw picked up All-ACC first team accolades, while Ibeagha was voted to the second team. Nick Palodichuk also made waves his rookie season as the only freshman to earn All-ACC second team recognition.
Awards rolled in for the Blue Devils off the field as well in 2011, as Duke landed three players – Wenger, Christopher and Daniel Tweed-Kent – on the Capital One Academic All-America squad, the first time in program history. Wenger also was selected as the ACC Men’s Soccer Scholar Athlete of the Year to lead Duke’s ACC-best six All-ACC Academic Team selections. Belshaw joined Wenger on the NSCAA Scholar All-America teams.
In 2010, Kerr guided Duke to the NCAA Tournament for the 24th time and for the sixth straight season. The Blue Devils compiled a 10-6-4 overall record and finished fourth in the ACC. He mentored the ACC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year in Ryan Finley and Wenger, respectively.
In addition to the All-ACC first team selections of Finley and Wenger, senior Cole Grossman garnered All-ACC first team recognition and Belshaw picked up second team honors. The three selections on the first team were the most for Duke since 1999.
Wenger headlined the national awards for the Blue Devils in 2010, earning NSCAA All-America first team honors. Finley was voted to the All-America third team and Duke had five NSCAA All-South Region choices.
Academically, Duke was equally as successful with a league-best eight players being named to the All-ACC Academic Team. Christopher Tweed-Kent also earned a spot on the ESPN Academic All-America squad, the third such time a player under Kerr has done so.
Kerr’s second season with the Blue Devils was a successful one as Duke advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament, the farthest it had reached since doing so in 2005. Finishing with a 14-7-0 overall record, Duke garnered four more wins and scored 10 more goals than the previous season.
Under the watchful eye of Kerr, Wenger excelled in his freshman season as he was voted the ACC Rookie of the Year and to the All-ACC first team. Junior midfielder Grossman earned All-ACC second team recognition, while Finley garnered a spot on the All-ACC Freshman squad.
Five players were selected to the NSCAA All-South Region team, including Wenger capturing a first team nod. Off the field, the Blue Devils were outstanding in the classroom as 20 members of the squad posted at least a 3.0 grade point average to earn ACC Honor Roll recognition.
Duke placed a league-high eight players on the All-ACC Academic team, while senior Josh Bienenfeld was voted to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America first team.
Led by Kerr, the Blue Devils also are active in the Duke and Durham communities. The entire team has been vital to creating the new partnership with Eno Valley Elementary School and various players are involved with the Read with the Blue Devils program, the Duke Children’s Hospital Game Day and the Durham Kiwanis Club Pancake Sale.
In his first season as head coach, Kerr posted a 10-8-2 record in leading the Blue Devils to their 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance. He helped mentor first team All-America selection Mike Grella and NSCAA All-Region choice Darrius Barnes. Both went on to successful first seasons in the professional ranks.
Kerr, a 1987 graduate of Duke who captained the Blue Devils to the 1986 national championship, returned to his alma mater following nine seasons as the head coach at Harvard University. While with the Crimson, Kerr compiled a ledger of 81-57-13 and earned trips to the NCAA Tournament in his last two campaigns.
During his tenure at Harvard, Kerr produced 15 first team All-Ivy League selections, three Ivy League Rookie of the Year choices and two Ivy League Player of the Year picks. In addition, the Crimson led the nation in scoring in 2006 en route to the Ivy League championship.
In addition, Kerr served as the coaching director of the F.C. Greater Boston soccer club from 2002-07. He was the coach of 2008 Duke graduate Michael Videira prior to Videira’s highly successful career as a Blue Devil.
While at Duke, Kerr was the national player of the year in 1986 as the Blue Devils went 18-5-1 and captured the school’s first national championship. A two-time first team All-ACC and All-America choice, Kerr finished his career with 42 goals and 43 assists for 127 points. Those totals rank fifth, second and third, respectively, all-time at Duke.
Kerr went on to play for the U.S. National Team, where he saw action in 17 matches and tallied two goals from 1984-95.
Following graduation in 1986, Kerr became the first American to play in the English Premier League when he signed on with Portsmouth. He returned to the United States later that year to play with the Washington Stars of the ASL, which was then owned by John Koskinen. A Duke alumnus, the stadium where the Blue Devils play is currently named for the Koskinen family.
Following his season stateside, Kerr went back to Europe, playing in England, Ireland and France. He also spent one season with the Hamilton Steelers of the Canadian Soccer League.
Kerr also played in the Major Soccer League, the United States’ professional indoor soccer league of the time. He helped lead the San Diego Sockers to the 1992 title.
From 1996-97, Kerr played in Major League Soccer as a member of the Dallas Burn and New England Revolution. In 1998 and 1999, Kerr was a player and coach for the Boston Bulldogs of the professional A-league.
Kerr has coached at the youth, high school, collegiate and professional levels in both England and the United States. In 1992, he was the top Blue Devil assistant of a squad that reached the national semifinals.
Born March 6, 1965 in Toronto, Canada, Kerr is married to Tracy Kerr, who was a soccer standout at Virginia in the early 1990’s. The couple has twins, Cameron John and Alexandra Catherine, and another son, Drew.